So, what’s it like coming home after a year on the road? After driving 24,000 miles in the new Honda, visiting seven countries, cruising through 38 of the 50 states, spending almost 24 hours a day with each other, staying in a new motel every second or third night, wearing out two credit cards, meeting an incredible array of interesting people from around the world. Is it all back to the past?
One word seems to fit the best: out of synch. Our rhythms of the road are not the rhythms of the city. We’re used to waking up thinking of new things we’re going to see, new things we’re going to do, challenges we’re going to have to meet. That energy now has nowhere to go.
We look around: The lawn has the same dull spots in it. The cars roar away from the stop sign outside the house as usual. People walk their dogs down 16th street with the same jaunty self-confidence that always annoyed me. Another robbery/shooting at the US Bank at the end of the block (this one ending in death). Allergies from the shedding of the linden in the back yard, as usual. It almost seems that while we’ve been out seeing the world, the world here has stood still.
We do enjoy the predictability of the day: the Wi Fi always works, the shower head has a strong spray, the bed is not hard as a rock or soft as a marsh mellow, the money in your pocket is good everywhere, the movie are in English, and you don’t have to figure out every other morning which direction you’re heading. There is a nice reading light by your bed; your favorite cereal is in the cupboards. LIFE IS EASIER, more comfortable, if not as stimulating. This feeling of comfort and predictability, I suspect, will not serve to offset the lack of stimulation and challenge after a few weeks.
But, here we are. The house has to be put back together. New light bulbs put in sockets. Neighbors apologized to for the barking dogs of our tenants. Boxes and boxes of “stuff” we stored in the basement dealt with in one way or another. Efforts made to slide into the rhythms of the place, without losing our sense of specialness. Without being captives of routines and habits, which was why we left in the first place. We could have, and perhaps should have, sold the house outright and moved to St. Petersburg. This is what Julya wanted to do. I wasn’t quite as ready to leave the town where I had lived for almost forty years. For one thing, a good deal of my labor arbitration business is based here. For another, my novel “The Joy of Killing” will be released in May of next year, and I need to be in Denver to promote it as a hometown boy.
Speaking of the novel, 70% of it was written in our year on the road. Clearly, it is the product of being cut loose from the normal rhythms of life. I look at some scenes now and I have no idea where they came from. It’s almost like reading someone else’s work. My editor at Counterpoint said he had nightmares for three days after reading it. Good.
So, we’re back, slightly bewildered, I must admit, but also a little pleased that we pulled off our year on the road. The kids, you can see from the photo, are not adjusting well. They’ve parked themselves in their traveling bag on the front porch, ready to head out.
It’s good to be home, I guess.
Keep an eye out for additional posts on reflections and anecdotes from the lost year.